Tagged André Holland

American Horror Story – My Roanoke Nightmare: “Chapter 7”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 6, Episode 7: “Chapter 7”
Directed by Elodie Keene
Written by Crystal Liu

* For a review of Chapter 6, click here.
* For a review of Chapter 8, click here.
screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-1-33-03-amReturn to Roanoke: 3 Days in Hell is well underway. Sidney James (Cheyenne Jackson) cheers behind the scenes watching footage like the greasy douche he is, and loving every minute of the drama. Of course nobody knows where Diana went – a.k.a dead. Not that Sidney gives a shit. The cameraman notices Rory Monahan (Evan Peters) getting stabbed, but can’t get his camera ready in time to catch anything. Then comes a scream in the night from their PA. In the dark we hear her choking, Sidney beckons the cameraman. They find the PA with her throat cut. And then Agnes Mary Winstead (Kathy Bates) in The Butcher’s clothing emerges, stabbing Sidney, as well as hacks the cameraman to unseen bits. She proclaims to the fallen camera: “I am the tree and the lightning that strikes it.”
screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-1-34-08-amAudrey Tindall (Sarah Paulson) and the others try finding Rory. Matt Miller (André Holland) keeps telling them that “R is for Rory.” You know nobody wants to hear that. Either way, he and Shelby (Lily Rabe), along with Audrey, Lee Harris (Adina Porter), Monet Tumuslime (Angela Bassett), and Dominic Banks (Cuba Gooding Jr.) all go searching the house for clues. They find a pool of blood upstairs. Audrey convinces everybody that Rory got that part and Sidney convinced him to do them a frighten in order to get their blood pumping. The poor wife is left believing her younger husband took off on her for better things. That’s sad.
Down in that cellar Agnes raves by firelight to a camera. She’s separated completely from reality now, don’t think she’s coming back ever again. Thomas White has taken over Agnes, full stop. She slips in and out of persona, yes, but ultimately The Butcher is becoming her primary personality. To devastating effect. “‘Cause the fans wanted more. And they wanted The Butcher.” However, things get spooky for even Agnes, as the ghosts of Roanoke’s Lost Colony start appearing around her, their wooden symbols hanging from the cellar’s low ceiling.
At the house nothing is getting any easier. Dominic edges up on Shelby, right as Matt appears out of nowhere: “Fuck her right here for all I care,” Matt tells them both defiantly. During an aside confessional, Dominic shows us that Sidney’s given him a body cam in the form of jewellery, to make things difficult for anybody and everybody. What’s better than screen time?
Shelby has a run in with Agnes in the bedroom. The old woman rages, going from The Butcher back to herself, and back again. A legitimately creepy moment. Agnes slices a piece out of Shelby, although Dominic takes her down before she can finish the poor woman off. All the while the cameras are everywhere, constantly rolling and catching the terror. Yet off into nowhere disappears Agnes.

 


Everyone’s becoming desperate. Nobody is coming to help, certainly, and we know why. They don’t know, though. For the time being they try and devise a plan how to get help, or simply get out of there. So several of the group head down into the tunnels below the house, where Edward Mott once supposedly led the Millers. Only they come across a screaming ghost, one that Lee’s gun can’t seem to take down. They rush out into the daylight, no longer fearing Agnes, wherever she’s hiding. Inside the Millers lament their lost marriage: “This place took something from me,” Matt confesses.
In the sky rises the Blood Moon. Lee, Monet, and Audrey finally stumble across the trailer, along with the gutted corpses of the crew and Sidney. No phones, no way to get out even in the car which is dead; you know it is! Then Agnes comes running at them from the woods. Lee shoots her into the dirt luckily, and the three women try to move on. Except torches in the woods alert them to ghosts of the Lost Colony. The Bloody Moon has begat spirits in flesh and blood. Meanwhile, as Audrey gives a Blair Witch Project-style confession to her phone’s camera, blood drips from overhead: from her dead husband. The ghosts still come for them sending the woman running into the darkness.
Or are they ghosts? No, it looks like humans in the night this time.
Oh, and Agnes, she’s survived a bullet in the chest, doing a little homemade surgery. You know that bad bitch isn’t going down. Perhaps it’s just more of the Blood Moon’s dark magic.

 


Poor Matt and Shelby never should’ve agreed to go back to that place. In the middle of the night Matt takes a walk downstairs. As if on a mission. Against his best interest, Dominic follows along with that sneaky body cam. He sees Matt in the basement where the Witch stands in the shadows: “Ive been waiting for you,” says Matt. Right before she grabs him violently, pulling him out of sight in a flurry of fierce noises. Dominic goes to get Shelby, they head back down together. They find the Witch on top of Matt. When Shelby pulls her off Matt tells them he came back for her. This prompts Shelby to smash his head in with a hammer until it’s nothing but mush. Wow.
The hillbillies have got hold of Lee. Tied up, she’s at their mercy. Uh oh. These are the real hillbillies, not the reenactment crowd. They’re the real and nasty deal. The Polk family; living off blood and the land. Mama (Robin Weigert) has her boys get to work on Lee, starting with some thigh flesh. They grease her up, season her. Y’know, that good stuff for “tenderising.” Likewise they’re torturing Audrey and Monet a bit mentally. Surely they’ll be seasoned soon enough. First though, they’re force fed a bit of Lee.
Up at the house Agnes is preparing the place for burning. Behind her rally the ghosts of the Lost Colony. Nice note: a parallel shot of the real Shelby with the fake Matt matches one previously of the fake Matt and fake Shelby from those reenactments, as they watch the torches from the window. Problem now is for Agnes – the real Butcher has arrived, and she isn’t sharing places. Agnes begs that she “only wanted to be on TV.” Not good enough. You’re fucking axed in the face, Kathy!screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-2-12-26-amWhat a solid episode. This really turned things up a gory notch. With that excellent 6th episode the plot twisted, and after that the series did itself a favour by coming out with this blood soaked “Chapter 7” that explodes across the screen. We can only wonder what will happen next. I dig that they’ve shortened the season, too. Not that they couldn’t have stretched it more to 13 again, just that they’ve set themselves a decent round number of episodes, they halved the plot in a sense, and now we’re heading into the homestretch, where anything at all can happen.

 

American Horror Story – My Roanoke Nightmare: “Chapter 5”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 6, Episode 5: “Chapter 5”
Directed by Nelson Cragg
Written by Akela Cooper

* For a review of Chapter 4, click here.
* For a review of Chapter 6, click here.
screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-1-36-10-amWhere does the nightmare go from here?
Edward Philippe Mott – undoubtedly related to Dandy Mott from Season 4 – is the one who built the Big Shaker House, the house where Shelby and Matt Miller (Lily Rabe & André Holland) experienced their personal nightmare. We get flashes of this Mott, as a historian tells us about the old property.
And who is it that plays Edward Mott? In a dramatic re-enactment (remember this well; this re-enactment business has a purpose), Evan Peters plays the man himself.
The historian tells us Mott had severe social anxiety. So he went out into the woods to build himself a home, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Even during the building process, things got strange. Like they would. Most interesting is that Mott had the house mostly to be with his homosexual lover, away from his family. He’s got lots of other things going on, though. Mott is gay; no big deal. It’s his madness I care about. Before the house starts fucking with him he’s already a bit insane.
Then the haunting begins. Poor Edward, he finds his paintings destroyed. The very things he’d only recently rambled about while in the tub with his lover. He interrogates his staff, not getting any of the answers he wanted. He locks them away like animals. That house is bringing out the worst qualities in him. “Do not judge me,” he tells his lover – a black man – who he also points out is only a servant. Harsh, dude. Fucking low.
Finally, in the night Edward hears sqeuals, noticing a fire outside. It’s Thomasin White (Kathy Bates) and her rowdy band of settlers. They do him in, stabbing a pike through his chest before setting him ablaze. Of course the poor servant gets the blame. They even find the other servants down in the cellar, only starved skeletons left. A truly, unbearably nasty history. Real estate nightmare.

 


With Thomasin right outside the house where we last left the Millers, Shelby and Matt (Sarah Paulson & Cuba Gooding Jr.) wait at their window, calling 9-11. Ambrose White (Wes Bentley) calls out to them about a “merciless reckoning.” The couple try to enact a plan to escape, although splitting up is never good; at least not for the victims of horror. And when Flora (Saniyya Sidney) gets snatched up by a terrifying, ghostly figure that scampers away on all fours, nothing is looking good for anybody. Then the fucking Pig Man shows up, the dead hunters. All the ghosts and ghouls come out to play, commanded by Thomasin and her power. From nowhere comes Mott, leading the Millers into a tunnel downstairs; is he on their side, or that of The Butcher? “I will keep her from killing you, no more, no less,” explains Edward. He wants solitude. Too many souls kicking around in the house. Y’know, practical ghost shit.
Side note: check out the effects on Peters’ eyes as he moves the torch around, very cool.
Out in the woods after Mott leaves them, the Millers and Flora try to find a way elsewhere, but surprise, surprise – they’re stopped, bags over their head and knocked out.screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-1-54-23-amWaking up, they’re at the farm where the feral boys were found. Elias Cunningham (Denis O’Hare) is on a table, bleeding, in terrible fucking shape. He tells Matt: “Mama took my leg.” He warns to leave, before she comes back. Mama Polk sounds like a real butcher in her own right. And Mama, she turns up again: it’s Frances god damn Conroy, baby! She’s as bad ass as ever, trying to serve up a bit of questionable jerky. Oh, you know what it is. A little bit of Elias. To boot, he’s bad meat. BAD MEAT! BAD MEAT!
The head smash here is one of the greatest. Ever. Some legitimately enviable practical effects work. Kudos to the technical team here because this is awesome, in the grisliest horror way possible. JUST. WOW.
Anyway, Mama’s kin made a pact with The Butcher around “200 years ago.” She needs new blood each year. Their family helps, now and then. The crops are the whole deal, so that keeps them going. But cannibals is cannibals; they like doing their thing. Problem is the hillbilly Polks are upset about their feral children being taken away. Mama keeps calling Shelby “sweet meat” and that’s pretty creepy.
Lee (Angela Bassett) got stuck talking to the police, due to Shelby cluing them into her possibly having something to do with Mason’s death, Flora gone. Of course we know the truth, but none of them know what’s been going on back at the Miller place and the Polk farm.screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-2-06-43-amLots of blood tonight! As the Polks take Shelby, Matt, and Flora who knows where, Matt takes advantage, sending a shotgun blast into the cab, as his wife puts one of the men over the truck’s pan into the road. But where can they go?
In the forest they hide. Meanwhile, Lee knows something isn’t right. Mama and her remaining kin take the Millers out to subdue them until they can get to The Butcher. Then Mama goes ahead and nearly chops Shelby’s foot clean off. So. Brutal. This episode has really brought its A-Game in terms of gore.
They’re brought back to the house, again. The Butcher and her colony waiting for blood. Flora is being readied for sacrifice. When Lee arrives, the policeman takes off on her; what a bitch! She’s left to try saving her family on her own. From nowhere, Ambrose smashes his mother with a block of wood, grabbing hold to her and puling her into the fire with him, as they burn alive. Mott frees the Millers, as Lee flies in to save her girl from the Pig Man; to save them all.screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-2-18-15-amSo that takes us to the end of the story at the house. The Roanoke Nightmare is over, right? Oh, I doubt that.
Shelby has recurring nightmares, long after their experience. Nothing can quite that it away. “We escaped with our lives that night, but I never completely got over it. Im not sure I ever will,” the real Shelby explains. And that makes a lot of sense to me.
screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-2-21-02-amHow do you think the re-enactments will play into the overall season arc? I feel the actors playing the parts are going to be affected by their roles in the re-enactments, in how you always hear about plagued movie productions. I see the actors themselves being haunted further later on. Who knows. I hope it’s a nice surprise either way.
Excited for Chapter 6!

 

 

 

American Horror Story – My Roanoke Nightmare: “Chapter 4”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 6, Episode 4: “Chapter 4”
Directed by Marita Grabiak
Written by John J. Gray

* For a review of Chapter 3, click here.
* For a review of Chapter 5, click here.
screen-shot-2016-10-06-at-1-26-34-amIn the talking head interviews, Matt (André Holland) relates how Shelby (Lily Rabe) was pissed after supposedly seeing him having sex with a woman in the woods. During the reenactments, Shelby (Sarah Paulson) confronts Matt (Cuba Gooding Jr.) until he breaks down: “Its like a part of my brain was cut out.” She comforts him, though the real Shelby affirms that she knew there was something not right, at all. What she saw was real.
That night Shelby sees the Pig Man. And he is also very real. Matt wrestles with him briefly before the couple get away. They’re saved by Dr. Elias Cunningham (Denis O’Hare), from out of nowhere. He uses the “Croatoan” spell, shouting it and dispelling the creature. But warns: “Hell be back.”
screen-shot-2016-10-06-at-1-29-36-amSo Dr. Cunningham tells us about Croatoan. How it was left when Roanoke Colony disappeared. Really, it’s blood magic. Spooky. The doctor quickly relays that he’s the so-called guardian of the house, trying to make sure people know about its history. Matt’s eager to kick him out, although Shelby has seen the Pig Man before. Through the craziness, she believes Elias. In the basement, he shows them some of his work: all the “paranormal activity” that’s occurred in and around the house. Essentially, a history of horror and torture concerning various families that were unfortunate enough to have bought the house over the years. Like the Chens, who were taken by surprise once the Pig Man showed up. And once Thomasin “The Butcher” White (Kathy Bates) came by? Shit. Things got much, much worse. Cunningham tells Shelby and Matt about how even those nasty nurses were afraid of the place. The Butcher did them in good, too. Real medieval style. On and on and on the tales go. He mentions the “Dying Grass Moon” as being when the disappearances and murders take place.
Lee (Angela Bassett) is on the hook for her missing daughter, though Matt and Shelby wanted to get to the bottom of the whole Priscilla mystery. Something with which Elias can help. Lots of creepiness when Matt spies the strange woman (Lady Gaga) from afar. Shelby chases her until eventually getting lost and running into some hunters – the ones Dr. Cunningham told her about, who once stayed in the house and turned their guns on each other. Well, they’re still wearing those wounds. Quite graphically; dig it. Shelby didn’t, and tried using the Croatoan spell. Doesn’t work because of the lunar cycle, so says Elias. Then in the middle of the forest they see Flora with a bunch of ghosts (people who’ve died or disappeared in the house), the Pig Man, and of course Ms. Priscilla. A horn begins to blow soon. An arrow, or three, are plugged into the poor doctor. While the couple run off there’s no doubt we’ll see Elias again. I’d bet on it.screen-shot-2016-10-06-at-1-44-14-amAt the house, Cricket Marlowe (Leslie Jordan) is ready to rock. They’re obviously ready to do whatever they can to get Lee’s daughter back. He tells them about talking to The Butcher. She’s pretty ready to rock, as well. Y’know, with the bloody moon rising and all. “Id kill for a Coke Zero right now,” Cricket says as he tries to get psyched up about what to do next. He takes off only to return hours later: “I met the bitch with the real power.” It’s that strange woods woman. She temporarily blinds him, puts a knife to his throat. Tricky lil’ Marlowe’s able to get himself out of it, after discovering a few things first. She shows him a vision. They’re in a cornfield. Hundreds of years ago. At the Lost Colony in Roanoke. This is where they came, to where the house now stands. They did terrible things, such as sacrificing little children; Cricket witnesses The Butcher smash a girl to death with a rock. Yikes. Her own son Ambrose (Wes Bentley) wasn’t pleased with the new path, under tutelage of that strange woman, the woods witch. The Butcher then pretended to repent for her wrongdoings, only to kill everyone. Even her boy. She puts a cleaver right in his chest to boot before slashing anybody not fully dead yet right into the grave. She binds them to their new land with blood. Lots of it. Her own, too. She lets the woods witch cut her throat, “bonding” the whole colony to the land “for all eternity.” Cricket says he’s got the spell to clue everything up.
Yeah, right. In his Uber on the way home Cricket spies Flora running across the road. So he gets out of the car and now you know he’s not getting back to the Millers any time soon.

 

 


Matt and Shelby wait for him. But he never comes. Night comes, Matt’s feeling a little creeped out. Foolishly, he heads outside – though with a gun – after hearing things, seeing fleeting images. The sounds they draw him to the cellar out in the woods. He finds the witch there, waiting. “Debts must be paid,” she tells him. Oh, you know what she means! Don’t pretend. A little later Shelby wakes and can’t find her husband. He’s stuck down in the cellar, mesmerised by her story. She was a “descendant of the Druids and their Roman conquerors.” Instead of being a victim, she slaughtered the soldiers keeping her captive. Anyway, Matt was lured into the honey trap. Meanwhile Shelby’s laid siege to by The Butcher and her ghostly hordes, Flora in their grasp. When Matt finally tears himself out of the spell, they get some help from Priscilla; she manages to get Flora away from them.
But poor Flora, she’s frightened. Then outside they all see Cricket. The Butcher rips his guts open while the Millers watch from inside. The colony gets truly medieval on Mr. Marlowe. Absolute savagery.
Things aren’t looking good for Matt and Shelby. We know they survive it. Yet even in the real footage of their interviews – are so sure they’ll be safe in the near future?screen-shot-2016-10-06-at-2-06-26-amscreen-shot-2016-10-06-at-2-07-15-amLove this season so much! Lots of creepiness, a bit of gore. Some strange oddities of various types. Can’t wait for more in the next chapter.

 

American Horror Story – My Roanoke Nightmare: “Chapter 2”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 6, Episode 2: “Chapter 2”
Directed by Michael Goi
Written by Tim Minear

* For a review of Chapter 1, click here.
* For a review of Chapter 3, click here.
screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-1-56-18-amLast we left Matt and Shelby Miller (Cuba Gooding Jr. & Sarah Paulson in the “dramatic reenactment“; André Holland & Lily Rabe in the documentary-style clips), things were bad. Shelby’s lost in the woods, finding a strange torch wielding cult (including Wes Bentley) and a man whose skull has been… partially removed. The strange woman Shelby thought she’d run over chants in the darkness (Kathy Bates), a group of people surround a man having a pigtail nailed to him. Terribly creepy little cuts.
After running and running, Shelby stops a moment. Only to find more madness. “I never thought about what could be in the wilderness, hiding in the dark,” the real Shelby recounts. We see Bates’ character lead a strange ceremony involving a man put up on a cross, a pig’s head stuck on his shoulders. Shelby takes off again until passing out in the middle of the road, where Matt’s sister Lee (Angela Bassett) finds her. Of course it all sounds mad to the police and everyone else. Poor Shelby. God damn. Ultimately she too believes it’s the “mountain men” trying to drive them out of the house.
A very bad, tragic misunderstanding.
screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-1-59-39-amscreen-shot-2016-09-22-at-2-01-50-amWe get to see more about Lee now, she and her ex-husband Mason (Charles Malik Whitfield) exchange their daughter Flora (Saniyya Sidney) for a while. Yeah, that’s a great fucking idea. Bring a little girl into a haunted house, or at the very least a house out in the country being laid siege to by hillbillies. Anyway, things kick off real quick once Lee finds Flora talking to somebody upstairs. Who? Oh, just somebody named Priscilla. Who isn’t there. A ghost? Or something more? Lee does the smart thing and pries a bit. “She said shes tired of all the blood,” Flora responds when questioned about Priscilla and her bonnet. When Lee literally finds one laying around, she gets spooked.
The great thing about any haunted house film or show is that part of everything is the human, psychological drama happening. There’s Lee and her girl, as well as Matt and Shelby, everyone with their own issues, taking things in differently.
That night more pig noises come from outside. Shelby takes action and insists on tracking them down, so Matt tags along. In the dark, out amongst the trees, they get separated. As one would expect from any horror. When they find each other, they come across a large stick figure with a pig’s head on top, roasting in fire; the skin and meat hanging below dripping into the flames. “This was beyond having a cross burned on your lawn. There was something demonic about it.” the real Matt speaks through voice-over.
With a bit more evidence this time, the police reluctantly look into what’s happening around the Miller’s place. Then a phone call comes through to Matt in the night. Except the phone’s disconnected. In the shadows, he finds an apparition: mean nurses tending to an old, frail and sickly woman named Margaret (Irene Roseen). They can’t hear Matt, but he watches on as one of the nurses tells their patient “Youve been warned” before blowing her brains out with a revolver. Now he’s seeing terrifying things, it isn’t only Shelby anymore.screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-2-14-57-amThis incident sets things into a frenzy. The police, as suspected, can’t find anything to backup Matt’s story. He starts questioning the integrity of his brain, literally, after the incident in the city. Problem is the cops are gradually getting less interested in helping, which isn’t all that abnormal by real world standards.
When Mason shows up for Flora, they can’t find her. It used to be a game she played with them. This time, not finding her may have something to do with the house. They find Flora in a crawlspace talking to Priscilla, who disappears quickly. Apparently Flora tried to make a trade: a doll for their lives. Seems Priscilla is homicidal. And it’s not just her. Flora warns her parents: “Theyre going to kill us all. And save me for last.” Fuck. That’s eerie. Dad hauls his daughter off and things aren’t looking any better for Lee as a mother. Especially considering she started drinking afterwards, off the wagon again. She broke a few things. Shelby’s not happy to find knives in the ceiling, although we can guess that probably wasn’t Lee. Those nurses are creeping about, too. In her drunken state Lee sees a lot of things from pigtails to pig heads and it’s one bad hangover she’s headed for in the morning.
There’s a little girl hanging around outside to boot, which sends Matt and Shelby outside. They come to a trap door with a ladder leading below ground a ways; hmm. Inside are a number of things including tapes in a camcorder. On them is a man named Dr. Elias Cunningham (Denis O’Hare). He speaks frantically saying things like “Im not what I am” and generally in distress over “forces that will not let me sleep.” He speaks of the house and its forces wanting to kill him. He further assures the viewer he’s not crazy. Then Cunningham tells us of his book about two nurses – Miranda and Bridget Jane. Oh yes, you guessed which nurses. Twisted bitches. They killed people with specific names to spell out MURDER. Everything got even wilder as it went on turning into one of those epic, insane tales of true crime.screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-2-24-14-amMore craziness to set the Millers off. Peeling away wallpaper, Matt finds the unfinished word MURDE written on the wall. Everything gets more real at this point. They keep on listening to Cunningham’s rambling tape. Doesn’t help any, except to frighten the shit out of them further. Scariest yet is when the tormented doctor heads inside the house with only his camcorder, night vision on, to guide him through the silent hallways. “Show yourself,” he yells to whatever’s in the dark. Before something, someone appears and startles him. And downstairs, a butcher’s knife with blood on it is stuck in the front door.
They just wanted to leave. Not so easy, though. No getting out of that mad house. Everything amps up a notch after Lee shows up with Flora again. When she’s clearly not supposed to have here there. More of that impulsive Lee behaviour already. Her brother tries to talk sense into her. Shelby tries talking the ex-husband down from calling the cops.
But can Mason get there to take his daughter away before anything worse happens? The little girl whom I assume to be Priscilla beckons Flora to come outside, out near the trap door in the field. Then she goes missing. The adults start to search frantically.
In a clearing, Lee finds her daughter’s yellow sweater at the top of a thin, ridiculously tall tree, its trunk looking almost stained with blood. They stand below, not sure what to do next.
And what can they do?screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-2-42-05-amscreen-shot-2016-09-22-at-2-42-58-amVery pumped for “Chapter 3” next week. Some people keep complaining, and I have no idea why. I love the re-enactment stuff, it adds a fun twist to the show. I’m still feeling like there’s going to be an angle to all that. Just like My Amityville Horror had its drama, My Roanoke Nightmare is going to bring something with that faux-documentary posing as a real documentary. Mark my words.
Also, did you catch Lady Gaga in her brief appearance? She shows up a couple times early on. Very unnerving look to her character. Can’t wait for more, of everything!

 

 

 

The Knick – Season 1, Episode 7: “Get the Rope”

Cinemax’s The Knick
Season 1, Episode 7: “Get the Rope”
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Written by Jack Amiel & Michael Begler

* For a review of the previous episode, “Start Calling Me Dad” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Working Late a Lot” – click here
IMG_2661
The Knick‘s seventh episode keeps on pumping, as the opening scene brings us back in time with Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) and Dr. Christiansen (Matt Frewer) meeting Dr. William Halsted (Michael Cerveris). This is a time before all of the madness which took Thack along his path. Christiansen calls John a “comet in the sky“. We see how uneasy Thackery is before heading into the operating theatre. Then Christiansen shoots up his cocaine, implying Halsted is where he first learned to take the drug in order to keep his energy up. In fact, William Halsted is who Dr. Thackery is modeled after, so watching this scene is very intriguing. The meeting of two men: one fictional, the other his real life counterpart. The surgery goes on in the theatre, as Drs. Christiansen and Thackery attempt to make progress heading towards the 20th century.


Cut back to 1900’s present moments. Thack is woken up from his drugged sleep to find that Ping Wu (Perry Yung) is having medical troubles. In an instant, John has a tracheotomy performed and Wu can breathe once again. He saves the day then has a fresh bowl of opium loaded. Y’know – for victory.
In other news, a young black woman is accosted on the street by a man belonging to Bunk Collier (Danny Hoch). He assumes she is a prostitute, but it appears she is higher class. Out comes her man and things get wild. A fight in the street begins. As you can imagine, people aren’t too pleased about “the nigger“, and not long after a stabbing victim – Phinny Sears – arrives at The Knick – Tom Cleary (Chris Sullivan) says a “dirty coon” got him. Then there are crowds of people at the hospital doors, pressing inward. With Dr. Everett Gallinger (Eric Johnson) and Cornelia Robertson (Juliet Rylance) arriving to work, everything is almost riotous.
Dr. Algernon Edwards (André Holland), Dr. Bertie Chickering Jr (Michael Angarano) and Dr. Thackery are all working on the man, along with the help of Nurse Lucy Elkins (Eve Hewson). The medical table is crowded after Everett arrives; he isn’t happy about Edwards being there, nor is he thrilled to see the pump Edwards invented working so incredibly well in the hands of John. Outside of the hospital, the stabbing victim’s wife is calling for something to be done. She wants the man who stabbed him strung up. I wouldn’t doubt they’d all take the first African-American who came by to be hung. When Dr. Edwards arrives to check the patient, he is treated just like any other black man at the time. Sad and hideous behaviour.


Sears is in a bad way, and the situation around him, as well as outside, is not improving. He perishes from the wounds with his family and fellow officers at his side. The grieving wife and mother wants all the “fucking darkies” brutalized. A mob is out looking for blood now, attacking people on the streets. Witnessing this, Thackery rushes to the road. He may not have been totally into Edwards being at the hospital first, but now he is seeing the ugly side of racism rear its head. The consequences of allowing lax, subtle racism go without punitive measures. New York City comes alive with people beating black men and women alike. The streets burn with the hate of racist mobs. African-Americans limp down the street and make their way through the back doors of The Knick. All of a sudden inside Everett inadvertently causes some fighting, a man insisting there are “no niggers allowed“. A boy sees where the black patients are heading then goes to alert the crowds and the police outside: “Get the rope,” an officer says which prompts the door at the hospital’s front to be ripped off.
Chaos reigns after the doors are open. White men everywhere with clubs, knives, bottles, looking for the nearest, blackest individual. Herman Barrow (Jeremy Bobb) is running around trying to get everyone safe, he even discovers Algernon’s makeshift clinic downstairs. Thack starts to get everyone on the move, intending to take the African-American patients elsewhere for treatment. He didn’t want to lead the charge on equality at his hospital. Although, now it’s out of his hands and he takes the lead running.


Transporting patients literally undercover, Thack and the others start to bring patients to a safer destination. Even Cleary, without horses to haul his ambulance, pulls the thing himself. Algernon hides under a stretcher, as patients are wheeled along under sheets like dead bodies. It is a tense, suspenseful moment. Especially once they’re stopped briefly by a very thick Irish-voiced individual. Nurse Lucy makes a sly remark about leprosy and a man’s testicles falling off, which helps them keep heading down the road. There’s also Sister Harriet (Cara Seymour) who commands the crowds away, damning them all to Hell if they touch any of the African-Americans. What a wild and frenetic few scenes together. Funny when Barrow hears about all the prostitutes out on the street uptown, no police around to do anything; he’s worried about his little mistress, that maybe she might be in trouble or simply that someone else is fucking her. Who knows. Either way, there’s too much going on to be worried about Herman.
Arriving at a negro infirmary, Thack, Cornelia and the rest bring their patients to a Dr. Williams (Stephen Tyrone Williams) – an old friend of Dr. Edwards from Harvard. Great little moment, as we get peeks of more racism, and a Dr. Thackery willing to work with anyone now. He is changing, slightly. Maybe this event is something that will spur on his working better with Edwards, seeing exactly what he and his people have to go through every single day of their lives. Over at The Knick, young Bertie is left to do his own surgery from pictures alone, but looks to be doing fine.
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With everything clearing out, Cornelia heads back to the hospital, as do Algernon and Cleary with the ambulance. Thack offers to see Nurse Lucy home safely.
But when Cornelia and Algernon arrive at the basement clinic, their relationship heats up intensely. She is highly impressed by Edwards, his setting up of the makeshift clinic, his resolve in the face of crisis during the riot, everything after. They are a long, emotionally charged kiss in the fading light. They hold one another close and, no doubt, will soon take one another right there.
Thack and Lucy experience their own romance. She invites him into her boarding house, then further into her room. They’re alone. Dark and shadowy. All the tension between them before now comes to a head, culminating between the sheets of Lucy’s bed. Where will this take them? Does Dr. Thackery have a new confidante? Or is this only going to become a source of betrayal re: Bertie?
Will it hurt?” asks Lucy before Thack undresses her. “I can make it painless and perfect,” he replies. In the morning, a crushed vial of cocaine is on the floor, the room a mess. And John nowhere to be found, only a disheveled, tired Lucy. She remembers their previous night’s tryst in bits, pieces, little edits, as we come back to her getting ready in the morning. I suppose it turns out cocaine isn’t only good for taking the edge off surgery. Thack finds a use for it just about anywhere.


The next episode, “Working Late A Lot”, brings us closer and closer to the end of Season 1. Only a couple more left. It’ll be interesting to watch where things progress from here, heading into the second season. Stay with me, fellow fans.

The Knick – Season 1, Episode 6: “Start Calling Me Dad”

Cinemax’s The Knick
Season 1, Episode 6: “Start Calling Me Dad”
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Written by Jack Amiel & Michael Begler

* For a review of the previous episode, “They Capture the Heat” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Get the Rope” – click here
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This episode begins, again, with a ringing phone. Now, it is at the Chickering household and the call comes for Dr. Bertie Chickering (Michael Angarano). At a very early hour. Just so happens it’s Dr. John Thackery (Clive Owen). But then Dr. Bertram Chickering Sr (Reg Rogers) isn’t too pleased with the early calls. Even less impressed with Thackery and his early morning experiments.
When Bertie gets to the lab, there are naked Asian women sitting with Thack. They’ve been there a couple days straight: “We took a few small breaks,” John says with a saucy, sly grin. He has lots to show Bertie, hoping to improve on the placental problems they’d encountered when Dr. Christiansen was still around. The plan, says Thack, is to put pressure on the wound while performing a Cesarean inside the wound, rather than outside. Watching these innovations on the part of Thackery is amazing, almost like witnessing a piece of history. The excited way in which Clive Owen delivers these lines shows us both Thack’s own happiness to push forward into the future of medicine, as well as his raging cocaine addiction. Furthermore, the way he employs the prostitutes to help with his new experiments is sort of hilarious, especially the way he reels Bertie in to the entire thing. Well written opener to the sixth episode of The Knick‘s Season 1.


In less exciting and sadder news, Dr. Everett Gallinger (Eric Johnson) and his wife Eleanor (Maya Kazan) are all but watching their child perish from meningitis. She is upset that Everett “brought this into our house” while he is devastated. Sister Harriet (Cara Seymour) tries to tell Eleanor there isn’t much to be done, at all. Though, Everett mentions a slim chance bloodletting procedure, and the mother wants anything, everything to be done in order to try saving their child.
Inspector Speight (David Fierro) and Cornelia Robertson (Juliet Rylance) are still trying to figure out the typhoid outbreak. He has a fairly well connected map of the disease spreading around New York City, so they’re merely trying to discover the link: ice cream. Or “whats in the ice cream“. Turns out a woman named Mary Mallon (Melissa McMeekin) made all the ice cream which got everyone sick; Typhoid Mary.
Meanwhile, Herman Barrow (Jeremy Bobb) is trying to acquire an x-ray machine that doesn’t cost $3,000. The salesman of a second hand unit introduces Herman to the machine and takes an x-ray for him. “This should take about an hour,” the man tells him. Incredible how advanced we’ve become since.


Dr. Algernon Edwards (André Holland) and Cornelia sit together for a talk. He seems pensive, perhaps depressed. His life at The Knickerbocker Hospital isn’t what it promised to be at the start. Here, we get insight into the young life of Algie, as an almost additional member of the Robertson clan, having played with Cornelia and her brother Henry as children. We can tell there is more to the relationship between Algernon and Cornelia, so it’ll be interesting to watch more of that come out as the season progresses.
Abby (Jennifer Ferrin) and her syphilis treatment is coming along. The poor thing is strapped constantly into a contraption which keeps her arm over her head, the skin from her inner bicep stitched to her nose. “Its always looks like rain,” Abby tells John, “if you only look at the clouds.” Her spirits are high, though, it’s probably only because of having to deal with her illness so long. She has become accustomed to it, sadly.
Then there’s Thackery dealing with the greasy salesman, Luff (Tom Papa) who hawked a second hand x-ray machine off on Barrow. He comes in with a liniment oil already emblazoned with Dr. Thackery’s face, ready to sell. Essentially, Luff is only concerned with his share of the “booming market” in medicine. He even talks about Dr. Pepper, whose “brain tonic is doing so well they’re serving it at fountains all around the city; as much a beverage as it is a remedy.” John doesn’t have much time for it, shooing Luff out and calling him a “moldy rogue”. Already in 1900, the vultures of capitalism are peeking their heads out and trying to make money from whatever they can in the burgeoning field.


Bertie is taking Nurse Lucy Elkins (Eve Hewson) out on a date. They have a pretzel and walk together, enjoying one another’s company. Smiling, talking. A new relationship is beginning here, but will the small looks between Lucy and Thackery become anything? Will that further cause tension between John and Bertie? Either way, for now Bertie clearly likes being with Lucy, and she seems to, as well.
In an African-American bar, Algernon is having a drink. His eyes are dangerous and his face looks almost vacant. The bartender talks about “the Big Nig“, someone to whom Algernon should not go looking for a fight. He does, though. And afterwards we watch him ice down his side, clearly after having gone for a fight with the man. Glad we didn’t get another scene of Edwards fighting, but that it’s merely alluded to heavily. Nice editing in this particular scene.
More sadness now, as the Gallingers finally lose their child to meningitis. Eleanor is apparently lost in her own mind, not thinking straight. She can’t accept the death of their daughter. Sister Harriet and Everett are both equally concerned. Of course, “the powerful wave of melancholia” is coming, and Harriet suggest perhaps they ought to adopt a baby that was left on the church steps recently. A way to get through things. Everett’s left to consider whether or not they ought to take the child in.
Such a juxtaposition to see Tom Cleary (Chris Sullivan) waiting outside for Harriet: “Weve got work to do,” he says. She goes from caring for children to abortion so quickly. Not that I have any issue with it, just an interesting parallel.
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Inspector Speight and Cornelia finally track down Typhoid Mary. She is at a new home serving ice cream again. Once the news of her typhoid is let out, everybody at the table eating drops their spoons, afraid they might contract her nastiness. Awesome little scene where Mary tries to run away and then Cornelia tackles her – “Definitely a new century,” Speight laughs remarking he’d “never seen a society girl join a fracas that quick.” This part had me laughing, in the best sort of way. Cornelia is a tough cookie.
At The Knick, another pregnant patient comes in and Thack gets himself ready by shooting up a good dose of cocaine. Bertie is along for the ride, once more. “Are you sure we’re ready?” he asks Thack. But John is all ready, he wants to go and figure things out. He wants to move forward and try getting the procedure right, on the table, in the operating theatre. No more experiments. So they used their new contraption to enter the vaginal canal and attempt to succeed where they’ve only managed to fail until now. Thack cuts into the stomach and forges on. Their new technique helps to slow the bleeding, allowing the successful delivery of the baby. The placental repair is named after all three men who influenced its development: Christiansen-Thackery-Chickering. A new step into the modern world of medicine and childbirth.
Late at night, Thack is working. He hears something downstairs and eventually comes upon the makeshift black emergency room which Algernon has been running. John wants them all out, so the gig is up. So it seems. This could be bad for Edwards, as well as the patients he will no longer get to service. He shows Thackery the extent of the little clinic, what he’s been doing down there with limited resources and under the virtual cover of darkness: “Are you out of your fucking mind?” John asks sternly. Things change slightly when Thack sees the blood pump Edwards made out of a vacuum cleaner: “Thats not the only thing Ive come up with down here,” Algie assures before introducing his solution for the inguinal hernia. John agrees not to say anything for now, as long as the door stays locked and nobody else wanders in. Even better, Algernon’s hernia treatment is heading for the big time and tenuous agreement is struck between the two doctors: “Dr. Edwards,” begins Thackery, “may I officially welcome you to The Knick?”


Cornelia is being readied to marry Phillip Showalter (Tom Lipinski). He believes she’ll be a perfect little housewife instead of continuing on with any business after their marriage. A tense, sort of creepy scene sees Phillip’s father Hobart Showalter (Gary Simpson) confront Cornelia in her room, as she happens to be undressing for the day. The name of the episode comes from these moments. He’s got lots of ideas about what needs to happen after Cornelia is hitched to Phillip. It is an unsettling and nervous scene, but sets the tone for Cornelia’s further relationship with Hobart and the Showalter clan. You could feel something more almost breaking through, and yet the episode finishes her on a strange, awkward note. Very interested to see where it all goes from here.


The next episode is titled “Get the Rope”. Stay tuned with me for another go round.

The Knick – Season 1, Episode 5: “They Capture the Heat”

Cinemax’s The Knick
Season 1, Episode 5: “They Capture the Heat”
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Written by Steven Katz

* For a review of the previous episode, “Where’s the Dignity?” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Start Calling Me Dad” – click here
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“They Capture the Heat” starts with Bunky Collier (Danny Hoch) bringing a man of his into a shady old doctor. He’d rather not go over to The Knickerbocker Hospital, as it might put him in debt to Herman Barrow (Jeremy Bobb). I’m sure he’d love to keep an edge on Barrow, as much and as long as possible. Meanwhile, Dr. John Thackery (Clive Owen) receives a phone call and only mutters: “Whoever the hell this isgo to hell.”
Other medical work is taking place, but in the basement while Dr. Algernon Edwards (André Holland). The man in front of him has a brutal hernia, extending from the groin down right into his scrotum. Rough stuff. Edwards is also scolded by the patient for using such big words, not treating him “like a man“. Afterwards, they come to better terms after the man is clothed, they talk of heritage seeing as how the man is Cuban. Edwards levels with him and further talks surgery, an obvious treatment for the hernia. He wants to use metallic wire on the operation because other uses have proved to fail later on. Love to watch the medical advancements happening almost on the fly with these doctors.


At The Knick, Bunky’s brother-in-law – the shot man – comes in for treatment. Thack is a little confused, wondering how Barrow is related to Collier. In a little twist of fate, Algernon appears right as Thackery needs someone to scrub in on the surgery. There’s a tenuous bond between the two doctors going in, though, I can slowly see John warming to Edwards; first there was the co-authored paper, now he’s there to assist Thack on this tricky gangster surgery. Herman’s still trying to worm money out of Bunky for the assistance, too. Bunky is not too happy about the “black bastard” working on his brother-in-law. Watching Drs. Edwards and Thackery in surgery together is something else. They have a good back and forth together, working alongside one another like old colleagues, no bickering simply doing what they were trained to do. All works out in the end, and nobody gets shot, as Thack figures out exactly what to do.


Dr. Thackery: “Funny thing about Darwinhe wanted to be a doctor, but couldnt stand the blood.”


Inspector Speight (David Fierro) and Cornelia Robertson (Juliet Rylance) are still trying to get to the bottom of the typhoid outbreak, searching through upper class homes, questioning the homeowners and their help.
Back at the hospital, Edwards and Thackery relax after the tense surgery. As does Barrow who takes a nice drink from his flask, without offering any to Algernon and passing it in front of him over to John. More of the subtle yet screaming racism hanging over The Knick as a series.
In this episode we’re privy to a presentation by Edison’s people – the new x-ray machine. Another incredible look at the innovation in modern medicine, circa 1900. Thackery talks with Cornelia, Herman and another of the money-men, none of which are hugely thrilled about spending thousands of dollars on the machine. Nobody is concerned with the future, only John. Everyone there is more concerned with money, donations, and so on; profit, profit, profit.
Cut to Herman, out in the whorehouse and making more possible deals. Hilarious to see him sit there sweating while Thackery and the others were previously talking money. He’s always stuck at the epicenter of the money woes. But just as often he finds himself in the right place to make a quick buck, as evidenced by the scene where he’s visiting his prostitute mistress.


Sister Harriet (Cara Seymour) and Tom Cleary (Chris Sullivan) are out on the town together. They’re also doing business, of another sort entirely. And not all just to make a profit. Part of their deal is based on wanting to help young women; at least Harriet’s, anyways. Cleary would do almost any last thing for a buck.
Dr. Everett Gallinger (Eric Johnson) and his wife Eleanor (Maya Kazan) are having troubles of their own. Their little baby is presenting signs of meningitis, so off they rush to The Knick, fast as possible.
At a nice dinner, Captain August Robertson (Grainger Hines) discusses his willingness to follow the future, along with Thackery. He wants to buy the x-ray machine at $3,000, hoping to “discuss it over cigars“. Amazing scene here, as we see how far Barrow is from being in the upper class. He’s constantly berated, out the side of mouths, for going to a less than premium restaurant; once by August, again by a man August knows. The class division is clear, and perhaps this is why Herman is always scrambling to make money, any way he can. He wants in on the upper class, even watching closely as August tastes wine like a true connoisseur.


Dr. Edwards is going headlong into the surgery with his silver wire, hoping to help cure the herniated man of his painful nuisance. Turns out Algernon used his own pocket watch to get the wire. Probably his only choice, as black people might not have been able to access silver readily in those days, evidenced by one of the nurses asking where someone like himself could’ve gotten his hands on the goods. Watching them operate undercover like that is impressive, yet always sad and tragic.
Barrow brings new business over to Bunky Collier – a policeman. One willing to traffic in prostitutes. Herman plans on whittling away some debt through this new arrangement. Greasy little weasel of a man.
Things get intense when Cornelia fetches Algernon: his mother isn’t well, complaining of terrible back pain. When he arrives, Dr. Thackery is already there to help. He pops what’s likely a cyst, using a leather belt to do so, then all is right as rain. Edwards doesn’t seem thrilled about it all – another thing to be held over his head. But maybe this might bring he and Algernon together.


Sister Harriet brings a woman to The Knick suffering from placenta previa. Young Dr. Chickering is ready for surgery. As is Thack, who shoots up cocaine before getting scrubbed. Bertie is worried – the last time previa came in, it was when Dr. Christiansen killed himself afterwards. Except in the operating theatre the gruesomeness of the scene to follow is evident in short cuts; Thack looking into oblivion, blood all over his hands, all over the floor. And still, there’s nothing the doctors could do. Another pregnant woman dead.
Then there’s Gallinger’s little baby being treated for meningitis. So much terror for children in those days. It’s likely the infection came from Everett, after having the previous patient with all those rat bites. Hopefully, the child will pull through. If not there’s no telling what sort of pain and anguish this might cause Everett and his wife.
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The final scene shows Dr. Thackery examining a bike belonging to Nurse Lucy Elkins (Eve Hewson). “You chose blue to match your eyes,” John says looking at the bike. He likes her free nature, riding on the bike like some angel along the streets. There’s quite obviously a budding relationship between these two, beginning with John trying to ride the bike. Plus, we get more of that excellent history worked in, seeing the first rambler bicycles in circulation, people getting used to them. Even more, it’s a metaphor concerning Thackery’s own adjustment to the modern world. He’s willing to do anything, try anything, as long as it will propel him and the world into the future. Off he goes riding the bicycle down the block, singing a song to himself called “Sidewalks of New York”.
A perfect ending to this chapter.

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Next up is “Start Calling Me Dad”. Stay tuned for another review with me.

The Knick – Season 1, Episode 4: “Where’s the Dignity?”

Cinemax’s The Knick
Season 1, Episode 4: “Where’s the Dignity?”
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Written by Jack Amiel & Michael Begler

* For a review of the previous episode, “The Busy Flea” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “They Capture the Heat” – click here
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The Knick‘s fourth episode starts with Tom Cleary (Chris Sullivan) playing darts, betting, drinking. He ends up making a bullseye and the place roars. Then from the corner, Tom has a little lookout boy signal him to the door. What I love about this opening, as is the case at many points through each episode, is the music from Cliff Martinez. I mean, does it ever give this period piece series an extra edge, or what? Insanely catchy, intriguing, weird.
Here, the score leads into a scene where Cleary brings a bag of rats from the lookout boy down to a tiny ring, lined on every side by drunk, loud men. Inside the ring, the rats are dumped out and a man in the middle tries his best to stomp them. One of those basement gambling rings that’ll host any sort of event.

 


At the hospital, Herman Barrow (Jeremy Bobb) presents ashes to a widow. It turns out the pig he cut up at the end of the last episode was for the ashes, as the body clearly went to making money.
In the operating theatre, Dr. Algernon Edwards (André Holland) scrubs in for surgery. Even while Dr. John Thackery (Clive Owen) says there’s no need. All the while, Dr. Everett Gallinger (Eric Johnson) fumes at being told what to do by Edwards, who orates the surgery for everyone present. At the ready is Dr. Bertie Chickering (Michael Angarano), as well. But at one point Algernon refuses to tell Everett “whats next“. Worse, Everett says he has no time for “nigger games“. Finally, in steps Edwards to do the rest of the procedure and doesn’t miss a beat. He helps harden and clot the aneurysm with an electrical current, which prompts Gallinger to punch Edwards in the face; a dirty, cheap shot.

 


Inspector Speight (David Fierro) and Cornelia Robertson (Juliet Rylance) head over to see Mrs. Hemming (Emily Bergl) concerning the typhoid outbreak. We see how frank and upfront Speight is, after refusing a handshake from the lady due to not knowing her “hygiene habits“. He further asks tough questions to the lady, wondering if there were any women “on the side” for her husband
We see Thack reciting lines for a crowd, an obvious flashback to a time before Abby (Jennifer Ferrin) lost her nose, and when Dr. Christiansen (Matt Frewer) was still alive. A Christmastime party at the hospital. Happy, carefree. Cut back to 1900, Abby sits ghastly in a chair with the skin on her arm grafted to her face, elbow bent back up over her head. Things have certainly changed. Tragic. And it seems their sad reunion does nothing to help John’s state of mind. As the two talk, Nurse Lucy Elkins (Eve Hewson) listens on. She hears everything at the hospital, but just listens. Taking it all in.
Herman has a new hush-hush agreement with Cleary, taking the ambulance for obviously nefarious purposes. Afterwards, Sister Harriet (Cara Seymour) comes to ask Cleary to give up his fooling around. Only Tom isn’t fooling around. He tells her what he knows – the abortions, all the girls. Now they’ve got an arrangement since he’s strong arming the nun. I don’t like what he’s doing, though, I don’t exactly feel he’s on the level. It isn’t Christ keeping him on the moral side of anything: he’s in it for money.
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Algernon meets his father Jesse (Leon Addison Brown) outside of the hospital. He is a proud man to have his own son, a strong African-American man a doctor at The Knick. They have a chat about the history of the building, the neighbourhood, bits about Captain August (Grainger Hines) and that crowd. When Dr. Thackery strolls out, Algernon makes a great quip about how good John is: “But I might be better,” he says to his father with a smirk across his face.
We get more of Bertie now, which I love. He’s a good character and Angarano plays him incredibly well. His father, Bertram Sr (Reg Rogers), seems out of the loop in his son’s life. He doesn’t approve of the circus that is The Knick. It’s interesting to watch their relationship play out, especially into Season 2. Great actors with a nice chemistry, as well.
Furthermore, we’re privy to Algernon and his family in a scene together in a scene. I’m excited to see more of his story; another solid part of why The Knick is well written, having Algernon tackle all the racism in 1900 being an educated black man in a fiery New York City. Even better, Algernon goes on to meet Hobart Showalter (Gary Simpson), future father-in-law of Cornelia. Hobart is a real greasy guy, a capitalist whose beady eyes are those of an absolute predator. But Algie gives him a nice saucy retort after listening about the “docile” natives of Ecuador. Nice scene to include here, which pits Algernon against the upper class racism of the early 20th century.

 


Down in Chinatown, Lucy finds Dr. Thackery laying in a haze of opium. Naked Chinese woman by his side. Naturally, she’s shocked and makes her way out quickly. Their relationship is headed somewhere. No doubt to a tragic end for one of them. Or both.
And so Cornelia is marrying Hobart’s son Phillip (Tom Lipinski). Everyone’s mingling at the party uptown. A few strange looks pass between Algernon and Cornelia, after talk – from Phillip – about them moving away. Is there more to the relationship between these two? Sure, they’re old friends; the Edwards’ have worked for the Robertsons years upon years. Only there’s something else there.
Algernon talks with a vacuum salesman about how one of his units might work with blood. So they tinker with it a little, and the doctor quickly buys it up. Should be fun to watch what he’s up to with this gadget. I assume perhaps a better way to pump blood during surgery.
At The Knick, Bertie Jr shows his father around while doing rounds with patients. An injured, sick man comes in with rat bites. He’s the one who stomped rats at the beginning of the episode; after he slipped, they got him a bunch. Algernon gets pushed out of the way mostly, called a shoeshine boy essentially, then Everett wrestles his way in next to Chickering. They’ll soon have to accept him. Particularly now that Algernon stands tall in Gallinger’s face, ready for a punch instead of getting suckered. I just want to see Everett get the smile wiped right off his face.

 


Cleary comes across a young woman covered in blood, laying in bed. He takes her in the ambulance, eventually ending up in Thackery’s hands. At his side are Bertie and Sister Harriet, watching on is a distraught Cleary and an interested Dr. Bertie Chickering Sr. The blood is leaking everywhere. The young girl didn’t want to be pregnant and massacred herself. At a time like this, we truly see that someone like Harriet is needed. But it should’ve been legal, instead of her having to do it backdoor secretive. So many young lives lost, so much horror. This scene is real gruesome, in a brief moment. We see John reach inside the woman, then Bertie; the first shot is raw, almost surreal. Lots of blood. A little later, Bertie’s father is not exactly impressed because he came from a worse place than The Knickerbocker, all so that his son didn’t have to go through the same. Except Bertie likes the way Dr. Thackery operates, the experiments he tries, and the methods which he attempts. He is like no other, certainly. Alas, family problems plague Bertram Junior.
Speaking of problems – Herman’s in a jam. Down in the morgue, he has a slight confrontation with Cleary who knows what he’s doing. Barrow talks about “the going price for a fresh body“. Cleary just isn’t having any of his nonsense. We find out he was a gravedigger. Doesn’t surprise me in the least. He must have done whatever he could after coming over from Ireland. He and Sister Harriet go see the girl who died earlier get buried. Along with a bunch of other bodies in a semi-mass grave. Harriet says a prayer before they head off.

 


The end of this episode sees Lucy riding off on her bike, as Dr. Thackery heads out – once again – to Chinatown. We’ll see what other interesting things progress in this shady relationship in the next episode titled “They Capture the Heat”, as well as where all the other tenuous, wild friction between characters heads. Stay tuned.

The Knick – Season 1, Episode 3: “The Busy Flea”

Cinemax’s The Knick
Season 1, Episode 3: “The Busy Flea”
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Written by Jack Amiel & Michael Begler

* For a review of the previous episode, “Mr. Paris Shoes” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Where’s the Dignity?” – click here
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After an intense and wonderful second episode “Mr. Paris Shoes”, the third episode of Cinemax’s The Knick sees an old, familiar face to Dr. John Thackery (Clive Owen) come to visit at The Knickerbocker Hospital. It’s a woman named Abigail Alford (Jennifer Ferrin). She’s a friend of John. On her face, she wears a fake nose with her tiny blue glasses. The savagery of syphilis. “No one handles the unexpected like John Thackery,” she says. “Its where I live,” replies John.
They were together once upon a time. Turns out, he’s always been a bit of a wild card. Abby tells him: “I could never get used to what you called normal.” There’s a tender scene where John takes her fake nose off, revealing the missing one from her face where a gaping wound sits. Abby’s husband and John are the only two men she has ever been with, but her husband was less than faithful. Such a sad state of affairs, to see a woman cheated on, but worse – cheated on and then given a terrible disease, one which at this point in 1900 was yet to be properly dealt with (penicillin did those old effects in after 1928). Rotten. Glad to see Thackery is still a friend after all their history, and further, a doctor who’s willing to try and help her with everything he can possibly do.
I love that their relationship is evident, but not through a total barrage of exposition. Just goes to show the writing in this series is quality. Courtesy of Jack Amiel & Michael Begler, a fantastic team alongside Steven Soderbergh and his fascinating filming techniques.


Out with his tooth missing, Herman ends up not getting a corpse for Thackery. We’ll see how that plays out for him. Back at the hospital, Herman’s wife Effie (Molly Price) arrives for a little meeting. They don’t seem to have much of relationship. Clearly, Herman is a crook, he keeps her in fine clothing. However, she appears to be always looking for money. So is Herman doing what he does just to fund her activities, or is it that Herman puts himself out there as a man on the town with all kinds of cash? I think he overextends himself. Not to put all the blame on him, but when Effie asks about earring of hers that went missing it’s clear Herman is pinching any penny, anywhere, just to live a lifestyle that he wants.
In the basement of The Knick, Dr. Algernon Edwards (André Holland) is doing his best to secure everything for his undercover operations. He’s bringing in any of the other black employees at the hospital, regardless of where they happen to work there, from the young men shoveling coal in the furnace, to a laundry woman who finds herself promoted to “surgical nurse“.
Sneaking about the morgue we find Herman take the tag off a body, labeled as a patient of Dr. Everett Gallinger (Eric Johnson). Is this the body he’ll give over to Thackery? Later on, Herman comes up with the money for Bunky Collier (Danny Hoch). For now he’s off the hook.


Thackery is busy working on pigs. Across town, Herman is being a pig, obviously not interested in being home with his wife, so there he is with a young prostitute being tended to in bed. So, not only is Barrow funding his wife for every possible thing, he’s also promising all sorts of things to this young lady. Wow. I knew he was greasy, but here’s Herman getting greasier than ever. The name of this episode comes from the act the prostitute does for him, as he jacks off. So strange.
But back to the basement of The Knick. A young black man leads a slightly older black gentleman down to the makeshift operation Dr. Edwards has going. There’s even a sort of reception. In the operating theatre, we might call it, Algernon has a patient on his table and dictates his entire surgery to a girl taking notes. The older laundress from earlier is next to the doctor, ready to stitch things up wherever and whenever needed. Dig this so much, to see Dr. Edwards do everything in his power to help his people in a time when nobody else will.
Everett is a troubled man. At home, his wife Eleanor (Maya Kazan) sort of wastes away. He isn’t exactly neglectful, though, I don’t get the feeling he’s a family man other than in appearance. The child cries upstairs, off goes Eleanor.
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Cornelia (Juliet Rylance) sits at home, listening to her father Captain August Robertson (Grainger Hines) go on and on. We find out Algernon’s parents work for the Robertsons – his father Jesse (Leon Addison Brown) drives carriage for them, Mrs. Edwards (La Tonya Borsay) serves them dinner and takes care of the house. August seems semi-genuine in his care for Algernon, wanting things to get along well at The Knick. But at the same time, I feel August is mostly a capitalist, so as far as Dr. Edwards is useful to him (re: profit), I’d bet that’s about as far as August is interested. We’ll see how all that goes. Even more, there’s talk of typhoid again. Possibly “the beginning of an epidemic“, as August hopes it’s not.
Thack is busy sawing up pigs when Cornelia visits him. She wants to smooth things out for Algernon, even if the man wants to tend to business himself. She cares, it’s very clear. Although, she wants to talk with Thackery about the possible start of a typhoid outbreak. The doctor suggests getting in touch with Inspector Speight (David Fierro). When he arrives on the scene Speight doesn’t care about “upsetting the apple cart” because, basically, that’s his entire job anyways. There is definitely interest in the case on his part, as well as the fact Cornelia wants to get digging on this whole thing. Interesting pair, these two.


Drs. Bertie Chickering (Michael Angarano) and Gallinger head to see Thackery. It’s very apparent Everett is a racist. Algernon is a co-author on the paper they ransacked another hospital to find, concerning their upcoming surgery. John is pleased, really, but most of all wants to get back to his “preparations” – a.k.a shooting up cocaine. Only there’s more and more trouble finding a vein: “Hello,” he says after locating one: “Welcome back.”
Called to his basement office Algernon receives the hernia patient he advised to rest. But the man didn’t listen, now his hernia is burst and paining bad. The resulting operation is a mess. Algernon can’t quite get a handle on things, using the amateurs around him to do his best. But blood is pumping, thread is running out. Nothing happens the way it ought to, naturally. Unfortunately the patient dies and it’s clear Edwards takes the entire thing to heart. Even sadder, they have to discard the body in the bushes somewhere, to let somebody find him. Brutal.
Dr. Thackery tries his best to do a procedure for Abby. An old one where they used skin from the arm to graft onto the face, keeping the patient’s arm raised and next to the head. John is clearly upset, he wants better for Abby believing that “shell always be alone“. There is still a flame which burns in him for her. In other news, John does all he can for the friends of Cornelia who came in with typhoid; though a raging addict, he obviously has a true heart beneath it all. Somewhere deep inside is a pain that can’t be quelled.


At the end of the episode, Algernon is steaming. He sits at an African-American bar listening to someone next to him talk up a lady, saying he’s been all over the world; mostly America. Edwards starts chirping him, even calls the man “a regular Rudyard Kipling” and picking a fight. Ole Mr. Paris Shoes ends up going fist to fist, in an amazingly filmed sequence. There are a few things I like about this whole bit. Algernon is lashing out, and not because of any other reason than his oppression. Right now, the only thing he can do and is let to be done well is fight. That’s all. Because surgery has all but been yanked from his hands, he’s stuck in the basement. So at a bar, out in the open, Algernon picks a fight and absolutely destroys this other guy. All to prove he is top of his game, in any way he can. He is competitive, only because the white man keeps making him have to be. Anything else and he’d end up dead.

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Excited to see more of this coming up. Next episode is titled “Where’s the Dignity?”. Stay tuned with me.